Creative Path



So, here’s the deal: I just wanted to get back to my art again! I just wanted to find some spot of time in my day that I could do what I loved-and be consistent about it! Is that too much to ask?

Oh, AND I also had to find a means of income to sustain me, and I wanted THAT to be something that lit me up as well!

Tall order? Yes, and No!

I’m incredibly fortunate! I’m building a creative business that I love AND I have the opportunity to work on my creative side projects – all from home! Maybe it’s the pandemic aftermath, maybe it’s just time, but so many people I talk with are trying to figure out how to restart or reboot! I hear THIS a lot: “I wish I had more control over my time! I want more “say” over my own future.”

So, whether you’re looking for the motivation to start and be consistent with a creative practice or want to do a complete 180 and build a thriving career (or something in between), I’m here to tell you it can be done!

There’s a process! There are things you can do – to get the focus you need – to make it happen! I’m living proof! My reinvention happened because massive change was needed in my own life. So, I pulled out everything I knew about being the director of creative teams and used it on myself!

Many of you may be experiencing this same feeling. “I gotta do something! I want to get back to…” Maybe you got laid off, maybe you retired, maybe you made a shift intentionally. Maybe you want to finally create your own career ladder. Whatever the reason, I’m here to tell you that YOU CAN reinvent yourself.

Today we’ll dive into that topic and several things I know for sure about it. I had to rediscover my own creative thinking process to create a life I love. Yes, I had prior creative business experience, but here’s the thing – that made it more upsetting when I looked up and said “What the @%!& happened?” (you know – the whole “preconceived notions and expectations” thing!)

Maybe you feel disconnected from something, but WHAT exactly? Maybe you’ve wanted to start a small creative business but have no idea how. Is there some “pull” you’ve been ignoring? If so, now’s the time to do something about it. It’s time to reinvent! Let’s discuss five things I know for sure!

Reinvention Truth #1: Know Thyself!

Yup! You gotta know YOU before you can even start figuring out what you want and how you’re going to get it.

Here’s what I found when I turned my leadership skills back on myself.

My last position in the garment industry was wonderful. I was the Director of Product Development at a company that served large retailers. That entailed leading various creative teams through a process and toward a vision. With all the outsourcing, the industry began to shrink, and I was “outsourced” out in my mid-50s. I tried to cobble together other things that I thought I would enjoy, and for a short while I thought it was working! But you can only hang on so long before you realize there’s got to be more to life. I was lost! Disconnected from something I loved. No direction. No passion. No zest! (I’m embarrassed to say I spent ten years adrift!) ARGH!

First and foremost, I had to reacquaint myself with who I was at the core. What I loved, what I was good at, what lit me up, where I was strong – you get the picture. I basically did an inventory of all I had to offer, and what I had at my disposal to create whatever it was I wanted to create.

When I finally got back to who I was, I discovered what was missing. Now all I had to do is figure out how to get it back! Turns out, I had the knowledge I needed. So, I turned it back on myself and began practicing what I preached. BINGO!

Reinvention Truth #2: Start already!

I have several teachers and mentors, and they all use a version of this: “You don’t have to get it right. You just have to get it going.” I first heard it when studying under Stu McLaren. But other teachers of mine, Anne LaFollette and Amy Porterfield use it as well. I love this quote! It’s posted in my studio, right next to “Imperfect action always beats perfect inaction.”

The main point is that making forward progress is WAY more important than achieving perfection! Because guess what – It will NEVER be perfect!

Try something, see what happens, and learn from that! You won’t learn anything by waiting, and waiting, and waiting some more! Don’t hesitate to start until you think you have it all “perfect”. There’s no such thing. Get it “out there” and then use the feedback to improve and learn faster.

Here’s an example from my own experience.

I run an online course called Creatively-U Academy, where I teach women the very tools and processes I used on myself to get back to “creating” a life I love and am proud of! It required me to record lessons and load them into a specific software. Oh %$#@*!

When I first started, I had no idea how to do it or what equipment to use. Here’s the key: I didn’t know what I didn’t know yet! So, I just did the best I could with Zoom and my phone! What a learning experience! It was only by DOING that I came to realize WHAT I needed to learn in order to get better.

I was anxious and I could’ve postponed the whole thing until I felt like I could do it perfectly. But it was by recording, editing, loading, and running the program that I saw what it looked like on the other side. And ya know what? It wasn’t nearly as scary as I had imagined.

Start from right where you are. Now!

Reinvention Truth #3: You have what it takes, but you may not recognize it!

Straight up, not gonna lie! This one is straight out of Anne LaFollette’s playbook! Thank you Anne! – “We can do hard things!” I believe it originated with Amy Porterfield. It’s closely related to that saying “Feel the fear and do it anyway” by Susan Jeffers.

Here’s the thing: Doing any kind of self-examination is hard. Change is hard. Building new habits is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Getting over illness is hard. Coping with tragedy is hard. Watching your child stumble in life is hard. Building a business is hard. We do hard things all the time! Some by choice, some out of necessity.

As with anything, you could become completely paralyzed by all the things you’ll need to learn and do. But every step along the way, learn to say, “I can do hard things. I have what it takes.”

Don’t worry about step number 85. Stay focused on the step that’s right in front of you. (Yet another quote hanging in my home office!) And then do that over and over again. One step at a time. Yes, it can feel overwhelming to look at that never ending list of steps. You may feel like it will take forever. Emily Jeffords has a saying that I love: “Progress is quiet and slow.” Slow is fine! In fact it’s better to do it that way as long as you keep moving forward. (See #2 above)

You can do it. You can do hard things. You have what it takes. (See #1 above)

Reinvention Truth #4: What gets written down gets done!

Knowing how my mind works has been invaluable to my success as a creative, an online educator, and a mentor. As with most creatives, we come up with all kinds of ideas and can be all-over-the-place sometimes! I have always advocated for writing things down whether it’s an idea journal, a to-do list, or a full-out planner. (I use all of them!)

You can’t accomplish something if you don’t have a plan. It’s that old saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” As a director, I had to stay very well organized and on task. And to keep my creative teams on point, I had to share my organization tools, and keep an eye out for anything that might be falling through the cracks!

Plans and lists may not be your jam, but I encourage you to embrace them fully for creating the life you want. Once all those beautiful ideas and steps are on paper, you can let go of them! You’ll free up that brain space for your creative pursuits.

Planning my course launches, my collage collection releases, and my surface pattern design collections takes a lot of organization! There are a ton of moving parts and I want to make sure everything is executed properly!

My go-to tool is Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner. I write everything down. I can’t tell you know much this helps me stay focused and organized so I can proceed! I know that once it’s in my planner, it will happen! I use colorful markers, post-its, and page flags too! Even my plans are fun to look at!

Whatever planner or method you choose, write it down, clear space in your head, and mark things off as they get done.

Reinvention Truth #5: It’s NOT gonna be linear!

This might go without saying, but your path to the creative life you want isn’t going to be straight, or smooth, or predictable! As the graphic for this post suggests, there will be lots of ups, downs, and upside-downs!

But there will also be lots and lots of “AHA” moments, discoveries, and sheer joy! One of the best pieces of advice I can give is to pay attention to, and celebrate, your wins along the way! It doesn’t matter how small they are, celebrate like it’s your birthday!

This will help when the going gets tough! Write your wins down, celebrate them, join our community, and shout them from the rooftop! If you take the first four tips to heart, the slow and steady progress you make will add up to huge achievements.

Go into it knowing that there will be setbacks along the way. But the setbacks are only temporary. It may be helpful to have a few preplanned “challenge busters” at the ready. Or, you may want to have a few activities in reserve that help soothe those frazzled nerves when the going gets tough!

The most important thing is to remember that every step forward, no matter how small, gets you closer to your creative dream!

I hope these tips will help you start to imagine your own reinvention!

Join me LIVE on my Facebook page, Virginia Leigh Studio, at 3:00 pm Central every Wednesday to ask questions and talk about this topic.

Become Creatively-U!

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CREATIVELY-U Academy enrollment opens soon! The Academy is a place for women to reignite that creative spark and learn how to keep it lit! From exactly what lights you up, to motivation, inspiration, time management and goal setting, you’ll learn everything you need to keep your creative practice going, or to craft that perfect work. You’ll have your very own Creative Director to keep you focused! Join the waitlist HERE to get advance notice, see what it’s all about, and get first dibs on a front row seat.